Yesterday and today have seen a cascade of unethical actions by high-ranking members of the Obama Administration going right up to the White House itself. First, Attorney General Loretta Lynch had a private meeting with Bill Clinton:
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Loretta Lynch faced continuing questions Thursday related to an awkward encounter with former president Bill Clinton after the two crossed paths Monday at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport.
Lynch, who will ultimately determine the outcome of an ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email server while secretary of state, was arriving in the city in advance of a community policing event as Clinton was departing when the former president relayed through a security detail that he would like to say hello.
It doesn’t matter whether the conversation was limited to personal matters or not. It was unethical of Gen. Lynch to meet privately with the husband of someone of whom her subordinates are conducting a criminal investigation. And now the White House has stepped in to defend Gen Lynch:
The White House on Thursday defended Attorney General Loretta Lynch from criticism over her private meeting with former President Clinton.
The meeting took place in the midst of a federal investigation into his wife, Hillary Clinton, and her private email server during her tenure as secretary of State, but White House press secretary Josh Earnest said both Lynch and President Obama are committed to conducting a fair investigation.
“I think the bottom line is simply that both the president and the attorney general understand how important it is for the Department of Justice to conduct investigations that are free of political interference,” he told reporters.
Earnest declined to say whether it was appropriate for Lynch to take the meeting, and acknowledged that questions about it “are entirely legitimate.”
That, too, is unethical. It is executive influence. The proper course of action is reflected in the remarks of former White House advisor David Axelrod:
Former Obama adviser David Axelrod said it was “foolish” for the attorney general to create the appearance of a conflict of interest, even though he does not believe such a conflict exists.
and leave it at that.
Behaving correctly is frequently difficult. You can’t always do everything you’d like to do.
This entire sequence of events shouldn’t be a political football but that’s exactly what’s being allowed to happen. Supporters of the Obama Administration, eager to change the subject, are pointing to how awful the Republicans are and noting that the investigation is the outcome of a partisan campaign. That should be a badge of shame rather than a talking point. You shouldn’t need the opposing party to force you to do the right thing.
Behaving ethically means doing things even when they might benefit your political adversaries.